Since the new year, I’ve been doing my best to live green according to my top resolutions for green moms. I’ve cut several energy-wasting activities from my daily routine, but laundry remains my nemesis. With a family of five (including three growing boys who all play sports daily!), large quantities of laundry will be a reality for me for the foreseeable future. Laundry is probably a reality in yours as well. While household laundry can’t be avoided, there are ways to reduce energy, water-consumption, and reduce your environmental impact with the following five green laundry tips. Best Green and Organic Laundry Detergent and Top Green Cleaning Products
1. Green Laundry Tips: Use Green Detergent.
Yes, it’s more expensive, but eco-friendly laundry detergent helps more than just the environment. The chemical-free stuff is gentler on kids’ skin, too. The best, including my top three below, are free of dyes and scents (who needs it?) and utilize smaller packaging than most.
When selecting eco-friendly laundry detergent, search for the best ones by looking at what they don’t contain instead of what they do contain. Laundry detergent manufacturers are not required by law to disclose their ingredients, so you’re likely to see vague ingredient lists instead of a run-down of harmful chemicals. Look on the label for companies disclosing good things instead: what eco-claims they make. Curious how your laundry detergent ranks? Look it up on GoodGuide.
2. Invest in spin dryer.
During research for this article, I tested out an eco-friendly spin dryer from Laundry Alternative. Approximately half the size of a traditional dryer, the spin dryer works in only 2-3 minutes, using far less energy for an average load. It’s compact and gentler on clothes than your regular dryer, and has a pretty decent capacity given its size (13.8 pounds of wet laundry).
Here’s how the spin dryer works (and helps the environment):
1. You fill it with wet clothes, either straight from your washer or after a short cycle in your regular dryer.
2. You plug it in (uses a conventional 110V outlet).
3. You close the lid and watch the water drain out of the bottom (you’ll want to place a small bowl or other item to catch the water on the floor).
4. In 2-3 minutes, you retrieve your clothes, which will be mostly dry. They’ll still need to dry a bit more hanging in the closet or dry them in the regular dryer for a short time.
During a normal laundry cycle in my house, it takes me approximately 9 minutes to dry the clothes from my washer using the spin dryer (about three spin dryer loads from one washer load). Then they all get tossed into the regular dryer for a shorter 20 minute cycle. At that point, they’re completely dry. The upside: I’m taking it easier on my clothes, and I’m saving energy. The downside: I now have an extra step to take during my laundry chore.
Note: Laundry Alternative also has a travel-sized spin dryer, which works much like swim suit dryers do in upscale locker rooms. It’s perfect for taking on the road in an RV or while camping, though would be too cumbersome to bring during air travel or short trips.
3. Skip the dryer altogether.
If you have outdoor space and sunshine, you can use a spin dryer solo (without the traditional) or skip the dryer altogether. Yes, you can hang your clothes outside like your grandma did, on a line. I’ve seen this done more and more often in my Oregon neighborhood, and will consider it when the rain stops. You can buy a clothesline for under $50.
4. Do less laundry!
Is it really dirty? I ask my kids this all the time, after they’ve tossed a shirt into the laundry bin after wearing it for 15 minutes. Now, most of the time, my boys’ clothes are as muddy and sweaty as you’d expect, but I’ve been teaching them to conserve on the laundry front when possible. This means that items that don’t get very dirty, like pajamas, get two wears (or more) before going into the drum, and jackets and gloves are set out to dry instead of being tossed in the dryer.
5. Use energy-efficient appliances.
You don’t have to use an eco-friendly dryer alternative to conserve energy. Everyone knows to look for the Energy Star logo, but when shopping for a new washer or dryer, it also helps to know the following:
1. Top loading washers are less energy-efficient and use more water.
2. Stainless steel tubs can withstand faster spinning, which means shorter washing and drying times.
3. It’s better to buy a moderately-priced front loader than the highest end top-loader.
For more information on Environmentally Friendly and Eco living:
Environmentally Friendly Green Furniture
Green Spring Cleaning Checklist: 8 Tips for Your Home
What Makes a Home Eco
What do you do to keep your laundry practices eco-friendly? Share your green laundry tips!
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